AUTHORS: Jieun Kim, Jeong-Tae Kwon, Hyung-Su Kim, Sheena A Josselyn & Jin-Hee Han
ABSTRACT: Memory is supported by a specific ensemble of neurons distributed in the brain that form a unique memory trace. We previously showed that neurons in the lateral amygdala expressing elevated levels of cAMP response-element binding protein are preferentially recruited into fear memory traces and are necessary for the expression of those memories. However, it is unknown whether artificially activating just these selected neurons in the absence of behavioral cues is sufficient to recall that fear memory. Using an ectopic rat vanilloid receptor TRPV1 and capsaicin system, we found that activating this specific ensemble of neurons was sufficient to recall established fear memory. Furthermore, this neuronal activation induced a reconsolidation-like reorganization process, or strengthening of the fear memory. Thus, our findings establish a direct link between the activation of specific ensemble of neurons in the lateral amygdala and the recall of fear memory and its subsequent modifications.